« PreviousContinue »
acquainted with his Bible, than the Count ; and whose religious convictions are founded on a principle so very folid and rational, that we shall communicate it to the reader, by translating his own words:
Every religion being reducible to fa&, we ought not to doubt the truth of this fact, after it has received a legal fanction from the legislative body that admits it. Thus any religion whatever is true in practice, with respect to that people, with whom it is by law esta. blithed. In vain is it attacked, in vain is it defended; it needs no other proof than the law.'
Thus happily are the maxims of this philosopher suited to every clime; they may as eafily be applied to vindicate the inhuman idolatry of the Mexicans, as to defend the frivolous fu. perftition of Rome.
The Count informs us that his defign is to confute the affertions of M. de Pauw, in his Recherches Philosophiques fur les Américains, and to thew that the Americans were descended from the ancient Atlantides, fo celebrated in the history of the earliest ages. We shall foon have occasion to express our disapproba. tion of the contemptuous manner in which this writer treats those from whom he differs; but in this coin, our author bas amply repaid him; for, if we except some general compliments in the first letter, on his style, he is never mentioned without fome mark of disdain and averfion, indicating a bad opinion of his heart, as well as of his understanding. In thort, po Inquifitor can Thew greater abborrence of an heretic, who obftinately refuses to believe transubstantiation, than the Count expreffes with regard to M. de Pauw's infidelity concerning those accounts of Mexico and Peru, which have been given by the Spaniards.
The first volume of these Letters is employed in refuting this eccentric but ingenious writer, for which purpose Count CARLI has filled it with details, collected from the Spanith hiftorians, in all which he appears to repose the most implicit confidence, In this part of his work, he seems to have availed himself of fome of Dr. Robertson's observations, though he censures bis history as deficient, and accuses its ingenious author of paying his court to M. de Pauw, by wilful ignorance or misrepresentation of the principles of the Peruvian goveroment, and hence of refusing to acknowlege this people as a civilized nation. But into whatever errors of this nature Dr. Robertson may have been led, the Count cannot be reproached with any such fios of omiffion; he seems to have collected, not only all the truths that have been told, but also all the fi&tions that have been invented ; and ascribes to the Mexicans and Peruvians a perfection in arts and sciences, as well as in political inftitutions, of which, many particulars are inconsistent with each other, and the whole far beyond the limits of probability. Ac. cording to his representation, the government of Peru was such
as could not really exist among them, unless, not only the Incas, but all their subordinate ministers and officers, were indeed of a race superior to mankind, and unaffected by any of those passions which render the restraints of law neceffary to the governors, as well as to the governed. That the minds of an ige norant people might be totally enflaved by the influence of fuperftition, that their religious reverence for their sovereign might filence the complaints of discontent, and suppress the feelings of resentment, is not at all improbable; but the affertion ibat no nation was ever so happy in its government as the Peruvians, and that the felicity of the people was uniformly the object and effect of the administration of the Incas and their officers, is a gross insult to common sense, and argues a strange inattention to the influence of ambition and absolute power on the moral characters of mankind. The Count also believes, that traces of the religious rites and customs of the church of Rome, such as auricular confession, the facerdotal tonsure, and afperfion with holy water, were found among the Mexicans and Peruvians; nay, he afferts that they practised ceremonies which, in their form and design, resembled baptism, and the communion of bread and wine.
The conformity which the Count thinks may be observed between the customs and usages of the Americans, and those of the inhabitants of our hemisphere, leads him to suppose that they have not always been separated from each other, as they now are, by an immense extent of fea. This conformity is, according to him, remarkably ftriking between the Mexicans and the Egyptians, and between the Chinese and the Peruvians. To account for the resemblance in the former case, he supposes the Atlantis, mentioned by Plato, to have been an island, extending from forty degrees north, to forty degrees south latitude, with narrow seas on the east and west, by traverling which, its inhabitants could easily pass over into either continent; he conjectures that a colony from this island, under the command of Atlas, came into Africa and Europe, and having cunquered these countries, instructed their new subjects in the principles of astronomy and of the arts.
To confirm this hypothesis, which is by no means new, the Count observes, that such an emigration is not only mentioned by some of the ancient historians, but also alluded to in the fabulous traditions concerning Atlas, the Egyptian Hercules, the gardens of the Hesperides, and the heroes who were said to be the sons of Neptune or the ocean : he also infifts on the tradition, which is said to have prevailed among the Mexicans, that a people should come from the east, whose king was des scended from their ancient princes, and who thould reform their government and laws. We will not dispute the possibility of
fuch a tradition in America ; but, when we are told that Montezuna informed Cortes of it, and acknowleged to him tbat be thought it fulfilled in the arrival of the Spaniards, we cannot help looking on the whole story as of very doubtful authority.
Count CARLI conjectures that the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, and Ægean seas, were formed by the deluge which destroyed the Atlantis, and that, before this revolution, the space now covered by these seas was dry land, with only a few large lakes, into which the rivers discharged themselves; he imagines that, fince this event, the waters of the Mediterranean have risen fire bundred, and those of the Atlantic, fix hundred fathoms; and maintains that, were the western ocean to subside to this level, we should discover a tract of land corresponding with bis idea of the Atlantis. To confirm this, he gives a chart of the Atlantic, and tefers to that of M. Buache, by which there appears to be a series of banks, extending on a line, wbich makes an angle of thirty-five degrees with the equator, from Rio Grande, or the Flats of St. Roche in Brazil, to Cape Tangrin on the Coast of Guinea; from these topographical observations, and from the situation of the islands in those seas, the author deduces fome very plausible presumptioos in favour of this part of his by. pothefis.
The deftruction of the Atlantis, the Count thinks, was effected by the deluge of Ogyges, which, he fupposes, happened in the time of the Egyptian Hercules, long after that of Noah, and about four thousand years before the Christian æra. In support of this conjecture, he argues that, as the Americans were ignorant of the use of iron, of coin, and of the art of writing, it is natural to conclude, that the communication between them and the inhabitants of our continent, had been deftroyed before mankind had any knowlege of these inventions ; but these, he afferts, were known in China three thousand years before Christ. We shall not detain the reader with our doubts concerning the authenticity of the Chinese chronology, and of the aftronomical observations, by which it is supposed to be confirmed: Count CARLI considers it as a point sufficiently established, and confidently builds his hypothesis on it, as on the moft folid foundation. He supposes this deluge to have been occafioned by the approach of a comet toward the earth; for which purpose he fixes, first on that of 1680, and afterward on one that appeared in 1682, the return of which, in 1759, was predicted by Halley. Either of these will answer his end; for, by counting ten revolutions of the former, or seventy-fix of the latter, he is carried back to a period about four thousand years before the Chriftian æra.
Before this period, Count CARLI conje&tures that there was a large continent becween Asia and America ; and that Peru was
peopled by emigrants from China, or from the Scythians of the north, from whom, with Bailly, he imagines the Chinese to be descended.
Such are the principal outlines of the Count's hypothesis, which the reader will perceive, has not novelty to recommend it; but our limits will not permit us to give an account of the various conjectures and theories, adopted from different writers, which he has made accessary to his own. These, together with his own observations, which are very superficial, are here allembled in a manner so confused and irregular, that the reader is bewildered in a labyrinth of digressions and repetitions,
Non bene junétarum discordia femina rerum. In the concluding letter, is an extract from one written to the author by M. d'Anse de Villoifon, of the Academy of Inscriptions, giving an account of a sea-chart preserved in the library of St. Mark at Venice, which bears this inscription; Andreas Biancho de VENETIIS me fecit, M.CCCC.XXXVI. The Antilles are there drawn, and the words Lola Antillia written near them, by the fame hand. The Count takes leave of his readers with the promise of another work, in which he will prove that, by the Hebrew word Parvaim, is meant Brazil, to which the fleets of Solomon made a three years voyage. He also contends that the venereal disease was mentioned by Moses, and was comprehended in David's imprecation againft Joab, 2 Samuel, iii. 29: he asserts that, so early as the ninth century, the Arabians understood the use of mercury in the cure of this disa temper; that this was the principal ingredient in the unguentum Saracenicum, with which the celebrated phyfician Pintor cured Cardinal de Segorbe ; and that, in a Latin poem, printed in 1480, and preserved in the Mazarine Library, the poet complains that the ravages of this disease, which he calls genus morbi commune Gallis et Iberis, had for some time been more destructive than before.
ART. III. Lettres de Monsieur EULER à une Princelle d'Allemagne, &c. i.e. Letters
from M. EULER to a German Princess, on various Subjects relative to Natural and Moral Philosophy; a new Edition, with Additions, by the Marquis De CONDORCET and M. DE LA Croix, Vol. I. and II. 8vo. Paris.
1788. HESE excellent Letters, having long been known and admired, need not our recommendation.
The additions announced in the title-page, consist of the eulogy on the author, delivered in the Academy of Sciences, and of Tome particulars concerning the calculation of chances, which, the
editors think, ought not to be omitted in a course of philoso phy; some inaccuracies of expression are here corrected, which, though excusable in M. Euler, to whom the French was a foreign language, might expose bis work to the faftidious ani. madversions of those to whom it may be most useful. The edi. tors have also taken the liberty to abridge fome details, and to omit others, which they conceive to have little connection with the sciences ; moft of the latter, they say, relate to theological rather than to philofophical subjects, and some of them to the peculiar doctrines of the communion to which the excellent author was zealously attached. It always gives os concern to see philosophy and theology considered as separate sciences, that have little or no connection with each other, which is, alas ! too often the case; but we cannot help smiling to see the academicians thus performing the bufiness of écclefiaftical censors. Their known character exempts them from every suspicion of illiberality, and we applaud their prudence, in thus removing every thing that might obftruct the reception of these letters among their countrymen ; but, as Frenchmen, they may bluch for the bigotry of their nation, which renders it necessary to mutilate the works of a philosopher, because his religious opinions differ from those of its established church.-Thank God, it is not so in England !
ART. IV. Efai Analytique, &c. i. e. An Analytical Effay on pure, and other
Species of, Air. By M. DE LA METHERIE, M. D. and Member of the Academies of Dijon and Mayence. 2 Vols. 8vo. Paris. 1788. 2d Edit. * CIENCES advance toward perfection by small and almost
imperceptible degrees; and the more rapid these advancements become by means of a multitude of newly discovered facts, the greater is the necessity for arranging those facts in a proper order,--for reconciling them with each other,-and for eftablishing, from them, first, or fundamental principles.
With respect to the different species of permanently elaftic fluids, the discoveries that have been made concerning them within these few years, are numerous ; they are dispersed through the writings of several modern authors, and make no inconfiderable part of the journals of most of the learned societies in Europe. To compare these discoveries with each other, to reconcile those that are apparently contradictory, and to establish a general theory on the whole, taken together, muft necessarily be a laborious talk; independently of the judgment and circumfpection which are equally necessary to its accomplishment.
* The first edition escaped our notice.